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Earthkeeping and Character

Exploring a Christian Ecological Virtue Ethic

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Addressing a topic of growing and vital concern, this book asks us to reconsider how we think about the natural world and our place in it. Steven Bouma-Prediger brings ecotheology into conversation with the emerging field of environmental virtue ethics, exploring the character traits and virtues required for Christians to be responsible keepers of the earth and to flourish in the challenging decades to come. He shows how virtue ethics can enrich Christian environmentalism, helping readers think and act in ways that rightly value creation.

Introduction: Ecological Ethics Reframed
1. Mapping the Territory: On Virtue and Vice
2. Living with Amazement and Modesty: Wonder and Humility
3. Living with Strength of Mind and Discernment: Self-Control and Wisdom
4. Living with Respect and Care: Justice and Love
5. Living with Fortitude and Expectation: Courage and Hope
6. Digging In: Becoming a Person of Character
Appendix: A Brief Survey of Christian Environmental Virtue Ethics


"'What we do depends on who we are' is the thoughtful theme of this wonderfully refreshing book with an illuminating biblical focus on earthkeeping. Inviting us to the pulsing heart of caring for, serving, and keeping the entire biosphere, Steven Bouma-Prediger helps us reframe our ecological ethics by centering on the virtues of wonder and humility, self-control and wisdom, justice and love, and courage and hope. He thus invites us to develop and nurture personal character to make earthkeeping integral to Christian faith."

Calvin B. DeWitt, University of Wisconsin-Madison; author of Earthwise and "Earth Stewardship and Laudato Si'"

"In the face of catastrophic environmental calamities threatening the earth's capacity to sustain life for all, Steven Bouma-Prediger turns our attention within, to fundamental questions of character and virtue. Beyond necessary injunctions about what we must do, Bouma-Prediger raises a far more searing and revealing question, 'What kind of person am I?' This is a guidebook for the soul, grounding an ecological ethic in the virtues of wonder, humility, self-control, wisdom, justice, love, courage, and hope. We need this. So does God's creation."

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, author of Future Faith: Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century; general secretary emeritus, Reformed Church in America

"This new book cements Steven Bouma-Prediger's reputation as one of our best thinkers and writers on the most important issue facing Christians today: how we relate to God's creation and care for it well in a time of profound crisis. Bouma-Prediger provides a beautiful and compelling vision of a Christian ecological virtue ethic that can inspire faithful living and concerted action among all Christians. I used to be skeptical about the potential of virtue ethics to adequately address what is required of us in our relationship with the earth, but Bouma-Prediger has convinced me: His arguments are careful and nuanced. His descriptions of Christian ecological virtues are compelling; informed by wide reading in ethics, literature, Scripture, and the Christian tradition; and peppered with engaging illustrations and stories. And his examples of people who embody ecological virtue are stirring. This important book will now be required reading in my environmental ethics courses. I hope it gains the wide readership it deserves."

Jonathan A. Moo, associate professor of New Testament and environmental studies, Whitworth University

"I remember precisely where I was when I first read Bouma-Prediger's groundbreaking For the Beauty of the Earth. In the end, it woke me up to Christ's call to care for the earth. One might struggle to imagine how he could top that prophetic book. He has done it. What Bouma-Prediger has accomplished in this book for God's people is breathtaking: a startling call to become people of character and virtue through caring for the planet God put us on. To say the least, it is a troubling book in that it challenges our virtue: we think we have done our part if we merely recycle here and there, call our senators, or buy fewer bananas. Bouma-Prediger's call is much deeper--to fully become a people who love and live like Jesus. This book will change the way we think about discipleship. And it will change the way we think about how a discipled people can transform the world."

A. J. Swoboda, author of Subversive Sabbath

"Steven Bouma-Prediger continues to establish himself as a significant, creative voice in Christian earthkeeping. As my students wrestle with the complexities and bleakness of the ecological crisis, they often ask, 'What can we do?' This book highlights the centrality of being for Christian discipleship. Christ-centered ecological virtues become the foundation of a healthy Christian ethic and lifestyle, thereby offering renewed hope in this uncertain age."

Daniel L. Brunner, Portland Seminary

"Steven Bouma-Prediger can only write about the shaping of ecological virtues because his own life is such a brilliant testimony to the character of an earthkeeper. Punctuated with evocative storytelling, this book is full of beautiful eloquence and profound wisdom. Bouma-Prediger has gifted us with a philosophically astute, ecologically attuned, and biblically profound meditation on ecological virtue."

Brian Walsh, coauthor (with Sylvia Keesmaat) of Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice

The Author

  1. Steven Bouma-Prediger
    © Hope College

    Steven Bouma-Prediger

    Steven Bouma-Prediger (PhD, University of Chicago) is the Leonard and Marjorie Maas Professor of Reformed Theology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He also oversees the environmental studies minor and cochairs the Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee....

    Continue reading about Steven Bouma-Prediger


"[Bouma-Prediger] describes the approach he believes Christians should take to environmental stewardship in this succinct yet deep volume. . . . Bouma-Prediger's analysis is fresh, and his passion and sincerity manage to shine through the dense prose. For readers seeking a model to connect Christian and environmental movements, or an extra call to care for the Earth, this lucid, hopeful work will be worth the effort."

Publishers Weekly